Change of Heart

You probably remember me posting not too long ago about how I was planning not to find out the gender of our baby this time.  Yeah… I’ve completely flip-flopped on this decision for several reasons.

I think I started second-guessing my decision about six weeks ago (holy crap, has it already been that long since we shared the news?!) when I found the courage to share the news of my pregnancy with my bereavement support group.  I asked the other women who had went on to have other successful pregnancies afterwards what the genders of their following babies were, and how that felt to them.  Both the women I asked had had stillborn girls; one went on to have a boy, and the other went on to have another girl, and both described the news as very difficult to process.

The woman who had a boy afterwards was upset because she’d grown accustomed to the idea of a girl, and immediately began to worry that she would have nothing but boys from there on, and the opportunity to have a girl would have eluded her forever.  (Fortunately for her, she had another rainbow girl later, but I can totally understand her concern.)  The woman who had a girl found herself frustrated that she was having another girl at all – why did she need to lose the first girl only to have another girl?  Why couldn’t the first one simply have survived if she was just going to get another girl anyway?  Both women told me they were primarily frustrated that, regardless of the gender, the new baby they were expecting wasn’t going to replace the one who passed, and finding out the gender somehow helped to drive that point home for both of them.  Having a new child doesn’t replace the one you lost, as much as you might wish that it did, and that’s it’s own horrible thing to need to process during your pregnancy after loss, but I digress.

After these honest discussions with women who had been where I was heading already, I pretty immediately began to worry if finding out in the thick of everything would end up overwhelming me, and if I might benefit from having the time before the birth to process the news myself.  I remember how my first birth went, and how completely, totally uncomfortable I felt.  Since Brock was my first, I don’t know how much of the discomfort in that room was related to the fact he was stillborn, and how much was just me feeling uncomfortable in general.  I remember feeling that people were sitting in on something that was very intimate to me, and feeling stifled – but would I have still felt that way if our baby had been alive?  I honestly have no idea.  Either way, it was a tense room, and I felt like I didn’t have the privacy or presence of mind, with all those people watching me, to work through my feelings about it properly.  I wonder if I will feel the same way when our second child arrives.

I’ve decided not to find out the hard way.  I already see myself having to process a lot at the time of birth – the fact that this baby will (knock on wood, please oh please) come out screaming where I’m used to silence, the fact that this baby will not be Brock (no matter how I might wish that they are), and that I will finally be done with this long, scary pregnancy.  Then I’ll have all kinds of normal new mom stuff to deal with – latching, cuddling, photo taking, visitors.  Do I also want to throw in the added stress of having to try to decide, in the moment, how I feel about the gender of the baby?  I will be perfectly happy with either, I’m sure, but I also don’t doubt that certain anxieties and doubts, like the ones I listed above, will still find a way to be present.

So, at the moment, we’re hoping to find out the gender at our anatomy scan on Friday.  I don’t really know if I’m hoping for anything in particular – I don’t think so? – but I also have absolutely no intuition on what our baby will be.  Heck, I was all but convinced Brock was a girl, so I know better than to trust my mother’s intuition on this one – this is one area where it was let me down before.  I have had several people tell me they think it’s a girl, but I think they are simply betting that because we’ve already had a boy, so they think it is more likely to have the opposite this time.

I am also hoping that finding out will help me bond with our upcoming baby a bit better.  At the moment, I’m still finding it hard to believe I am pregnant at all, and I would really like to move on to trying to make a proper connection with our baby.  I am going to love the hell out of our child, regardless of their gender and what they decide to do with their life, but there’s something frustrating about having to call our child ‘baby’ or give it a pet name (I have nicknamed him/her Lipsmacker, because they made a show of it on our last ultrasound) and having to call them ‘they’ or ‘it’ all the time.  It feels terribly impersonal.  When I know the gender, I’ll also know their name, and knowing our baby on a first-name basis feels like a really good idea right now.

I will check back in on Friday or Saturday to let you all know how it went!  I’ve already got a friend ready to take reveal photos for us, but have yet to decide on exactly what we want to do for it.  Either way, I will share photos when it happens.

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Closure

I had another appointment with my OB yesterday.  It was a pretty routine visit – I had to have some repeat bloodwork done, and they also took my weight, blood pressure, did a urine test, and heard baby’s heartbeat.  She had a bit of a tricky time finding it because Baby K is hiding out low and far to the back, but she did eventually get it, guessing it to be somewhere in the 150s.

The actual consultation with my OB brought up some unexpected news.  Their request to expedite Brock’s autopsy was approved, and we finally had the full report to go through.  My OB went through everything with us thoroughly, commenting that a lot of the ‘anomalies’ that showed up either meant nothing at all or were consistent with the fact he’d died at least a couple of days prior to his birth (which, of course, we already knew).  At the end, the summary said what I already knew, but was still amazingly hard to see in writing: no further markers came up to suggest anything wrong with him or me, and, in all likelihood, his death was absolutely related to his cord.  If not for that, he would have been perfectly fine.

It was what we’d fully expected to hear, and it was still totally heartbreaking to see on paper.  I’d almost hoped that they would come back with something new and tell me that he’d been doomed regardless.  Hell, I would still almost prefer than something had been wrong with me.  I knew neither of those things were likely to be the case, but I feel like they would have been easier to swallow.  I wanted to close the book on all this and have something that might give me the power to forgive my midwife, and even though I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get it, knowing for sure now that I have to keep being mad really, really sucks.

I am trying to see the positive side of things – at least this lets me rest a little easier with my current pregnancy, knowing that the odds of losing this baby as well are very low.  I’m healthy, Brock was healthy, and the occurrence of cord accidents is actually extremely low.  We got very, very unlucky.  My OB was even nice enough to give us a quick peace-of-mind ultrasound, and our little guy/gal is looking pretty happy in there – they even gave up a little wave, and we got to see him/her working on lip smacking and swallowing.

As a closing note, can I just mention how very sick I am of having to look for silver linings all the time?  While my OB was sympathetically trying to talk me through the new information, saying that they would do everything they could to make sure we had the best outcome possible this time around, and that this new information makes us worry less for the future of this baby, I just couldn’t stop thinking that, even though it was true, this baby wouldn’t be here at all if my first practitioner hadn’t messed up so bad.  I wouldn’t be high-risk and be under such watchful eye if my first child hadn’t died for no good reason… and, as much as I am sure I will love this new baby, I’m still also sure I’d rather just have Brock (for now, anyway).  I’d rather not have to drive into Toronto twice a month, paying $20 in parking and another $15 in gas each time.  I would rather not have to come to terms with my son’s death.  I miss my innocence.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

I truly, sincerely apologize for my absence lately.  I guess I’ve been having a case of writer’s block, because I have tried to write several posts in the last few weeks and none of them seem to come out quite right so they never see the light of day.  I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts and feelings to words lately… and that, I think, is because they change so often.  One day I’ll be completely down in the dumps, the next I will be feeling much sunnier.  Some days I lament being pregnant again at all, and on others I can’t wait to meet my new child.  I am all over the place all of the time, and it’s exhausting to feel, let alone explain.  I think I wanted to wait for some consistency and stability to start writing regularly again, but honestly, at this point, if I do that it seems like I might never post again.

Anyway, it’s Mother’s Day.  I have dreaded this day for weeks, and now that it’s here, I’m surprisingly much more at ease than I expected.  Lots of awesome things are already in the works for me, and it’s not even noon yet, so I’m feeling pretty good, all things considered.  My husband works, but gave me a beautiful family ring and plans to make us a wonderful dinner tonight, and my brother is taking me out for lunch and a mani/pedi.  I have had several other friends and family members wish me a happy mother’s day as well, which brings me peace if only because it reminds me that they haven’t forgotten Brock.  Telling me that they know I am a mother is also acknowledgement that he was here, even if only briefly, and I love them for that.  Thank you all; it means more to me than you know.

Family RingMy beautiful family ring with our birthstones in it – me on the left (aquamarine), Brock in the middle (tourmaline), and my husband on the right (tanzanite).  There’s two diamond placeholders on the sides for our future children.  “What if we have more than two?”  I asked.  “Then you’ll have earned a new ring,” he replied.  What a cutie.

Additionally, my day was made when I realized that Pregnancy After Loss Support featured my Courageous Mama story on their blog – on today, of all days!  How marvelous.  They run these story submission sections annually around Mother’s Day and I was honoured to find that they enjoyed mine enough to publish it.  You can read my story about losing my son, the aftermath, and my philosophy with my rainbow pregnancy here.  It’s hard to keep true to the principles I talk about in my article sometimes, but I do try very, very hard to stand by what I wrote.  I want to be the best mother possible to my new baby, and even though I am sure that it won’t always be easy to do so, they deserve as much, don’t they?

Anyway, that’s all from me for now.  I’ll be sure to post again a lot sooner this time – no more month long hiatuses from me, I promise!  I leave you all with an all-too-true poster I ran into today.  I wish all of you a wonderful Mother’s Day, even if you are struggling with infertility or loss like many of us have and will in years to come: you are all mothers in spirit, and just because some or all of your children can’t be seen doesn’t make you any less of a wonderful mother.

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